This week senior academics penned an open letter to federal Education Minister Dan Tehan.
The letter, which was signed by 73 academics from across the country, and published on The Conversation, included signatories from the University of Tasmania among other lecturers, was penned in response to the federal government's proposal to overhaul university fees.
The proposal, announced in June as a response to COVID-19 economic recovery measures, detailed how the government planned to increase the cost of humanities degrees by 113 per cent, along with other increases (28 per cent for law, for example).
While on the flip side fees for courses the government deems to be in industries that will be needed for the post-COVID recovery, such as teaching, nursing and health, will be exponentially reduced.
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The move, which is still required to pass Parliament, when it returns from its COVID-19 abandonment, has been swiftly criticised by many in the arts and humanities sector. As a humanities graduate, it's easy to see how the government would overlook these courses - the discourse surrounding them has always been often negative.
Bachelor of Arts students, even those who chose the degree for its varying units, or flexible job options, and even those who entered the degree with a concrete pathway have endured ridicule from the wider community. "The BA, of the Bachelor of Bugger All" is often a refrain that those of us with Bachelor of Arts degrees hear.
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Bachelor of Arts have also been described as the degree for people who don't know what they want to do in life, or for those who are like Ryan Reynolds' Van Wilder.
Van Wilder isa Peter Pan, the boy who never really grew up but loved to collect university degrees like trophies.
The coronavirus pandemic has thrust Australia and the world into a time of upheaval and huge uncertainty and while it is undoubtable education will play a huge role in economic recovery, forcing students to choose their degrees based purely of monetary decisions is not the answer.
While on the surface it appears that it is an attempt at funnelling students to the jobs where they are likely to be needed most, it is a misguided attempt, a shot in the dark that is likely to have huge unintended consequences if it passes.
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In the open letter, the academics say the proposed policy will create further inequity and division in the university sector and while they appreciate the attention to support the growth of domestic students this will not prove the silver bullet.
With the future of work under the grey cloud of automation, business leaders and economists all agree - we simply don't know what jobs will be needed in the future.
Deloitte's The path to prosperity: Why the future of work is human report, which was published last year, showed Tasmanian workers are missing many of the skills needed for the future of work.
By 2030 skills shortages were predicted in customer service, organisation and time management, health, digital literacy and leadership. The ability to think critically and creatively, learn resilience and the way the world works, often the skills learned in traditional humanities units, are the ones that employers of the future will continue to value and need.
Arts and the humanities invite us to think critically, analyse and interpret the world around us. All those soft skills employers say they are crying out for and will need in the future. Discounting those simply because they appear to be not "job-ready enough" is like asking people who think this way to turn off their brains.
- Caitlin Jarvis is a senior journalist and education reporter at The Examiner.